Let’s Talk Civic Pride with Dr. Villanueva
We revisit and discuss the subject of civic pride every September. The nation’s birthday always sparks up national oratory examinations of where the country is socially and developmentally. It is true that every year Belize gets older, we consider our history, we celebrate our journey as a country, and we constructively question our experiences as Belizeans. What does it mean to be Belizean? What tangible and intangible parts of our cultural identity bind us, and which seem to cause separation? What does it mean to love our country? These are all relevant questions, but shouldn’t patriotism be a year-round thing? More importantly, apart from their formal studies in school, how are we helping to guarantee that our students, youth, and young citizens, have healthy discussions and activities that show the love of country, civic pride, and patriotism? Where and when does the love for country begin? The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has decided that some of those discussions will start with us. Our Civic Pride Campaign aims to strike at the heart of young students. The objective is to inspire students to acknowledge, accept, and identify with Belizean nationality and nationhood. Patriotism in September is expected. Patriotism throughout the year is how we build “Belizeanism”.
Dr. Rene Villanueva is as Belizean as rice & beans on a Sunday. The BTB is collaborating with the news media icon in its efforts to generate more civic awareness among primary and secondary school children. Dr. Villanueva needs no introduction. His life and work have both been testaments to a man who simply loves his country. In the 1980s he created some of the earliest National Television Newscasts in Belize, he was chairman of the Belize Carnival Association, he vetted and signed Belizean Passports, he spearheaded the Radio Publicity Campaign in connection with Belize’s Independence, has conducted interviews and sat on committees that welcomed royalty and presidents to the country, and to this day he is one of the most trusted voices on Belizean radio or television media. Each month Dr. Villanueva and a team from the BTB will visit a new primary and secondary school. At his first visits in January, Dr. Villanueva imparted knowledge, love of Belize’s history, and his ability to engage and relate to students. At Sadie Vernon High School, in his familiar voice he delivered his iconic line – “Love FM News and music power, for Belize and beyond, thank you for choosing Love”. Even if the students were not familiar with the history he imparted, they recognized his voice. It is a voice that brings closeness and comfort. He told them “Be proud of who you are and what you are. Only when you learn your country you can change it. Civic pride starts with you”. As a part of the campaign, the BTB will hand over a Belize National flag to every school that it visits.
For 2023 this campaign is the first of several BTB initiatives under the banner of civic pride. Exclusivism is the -ism for this week. This is not for the practice of excluding others but for the fact that The Jewel is an exclusive group. Our population is approximately 405,272, our environment is impossible to replicate, we have natural resources and wonders throughout our 8,867 sq. miles of territory, and our melting pot of people is truly that- a melting pot. Civic pride should be a verb that we all practice throughout the year. The BTB is proud to be working with Dr. Villanueva to make our children be more proud of who they are and what they are.